The cool Duke

K Shivraj
Saturday, 8 July 2017

Though more expensive than its predecessor, KTM Duke 390 is fun to ride, comfortable and dynamically adept

KTM has launched a new Duke 390. Sharper and more mature in appearance, the new bike flaunts a split, LED head lamp with daytime running LEDs. The all-new TFT colour display instrumentation allows a mobile phone to connect and stream calls or audio files. The all-new fuel tank holds 13.5 litres of fuel, and looks a little taller than that of the earlier model. The tank also looks vertical and forward-inclined.

Contributing to the sharper, and more mature appearance of the bike, the bright orange trellis frame is partly visible under the tank. A hallmark of the Duke, the frame now contains an exposed bolt-on subframe, which offers an amount of visual aggression, and nicely gets out of sight as it passes under the pillion seat. While the underbelly pan is simpler, the exhaust is side-slung.

The 43.5bhp, 373cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine has been tweaked to include a larger airbox. This has led to a bump in torque by 2Nm. Throttle is ride-by-wire, and results in smoother and consistent fuel metering. A thick of power is available between 4500rpm and 8500rpm, and the bike provides a good mid-range thrust. Exerting a strong pull, the bike feels quick and highly agile. If the seeming lack of power at low revs may call upon the motor to be revved consciously in slow, crawling traffic, the enhanced metering makes revving to where the power lies, easy. Gearing is short, and the revs climb up pretty quickly. The rev limiter cuts in at 10,500rpm, and not before the Duke 390 has delivered a strong performance. The raucous exhaust adds to the fun of riding it apart from the slipper clutch.

Seat height has been slightly tweaked. The foot pegs are placed a little to the rear, and the riding position, almost upright, is comfortable. The (light adaptive) TFT screen, which adjusts brightness and colour contrast to match the ambient lighting conditions, provides a wealth of information. Dynamically well accomplished, the Duke 390 tackles corners with confidence. The chassis, suspension and tyres work together to make the bike dynamically adept.

Easy to maneourvre in and out of traffic, it displays good stability and grip. The wheelbase of the new bike is shorter by 10mm, and adds to the bike’s manoeuvring capability. The advantage of ride-by-wire is most felt when cornering or when manoeuvring in and out of traffic; straight-line stability at speeds is good. Even at speeds in the region of 150kmph, the bike feels quite steady and the ride has a hard edge to it. It is not uncomfortable though. The monoshock rear is pre-load adjustable.

The 320mm dia front disc (earlier model had a 300 dia disc) and 230mm dia rear disc provide a strong bite. Braking configuration is forward-biased. Supporting the brakes is a switchable two-channel Bosch ABS system with three modes — off-road, road and supermoto. ABS is turned off in off-road mode and fully functional in road mode. ABS is functional on the front wheel in supermoto mode.

Priced at Rs 2.26 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi, Duke 390 is fun to ride, comfortable and dynamically adept. Sharper and more mature, the Duke 390 is capable of appealing to a wider rider mass.  

Pros: Appearance, throttle metering, performance, handling, equipment
Cons: Priced more than its predecessor

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